John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Survey Results Category

How Do Newtown Residents Rate Township Services?

Newtown Township hired Econsult Solutions Inc. [ESI] for $69,450, half of which is being covered with a grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, to develop a five-year financial plan (read “Newtown Township To Develop a 5-Year Financial Plan”). Steve Wray and other company officials presented findings from its preliminary report during a recent virtual meeting with township supervisors (read a summary of those findsing here).

About the Survey Respondents

545 responses were collected.

Almost two-thirds of survey respondents are women and over 70% have lived in Newtown Township for over ten years. Nearly two-thirds (72%) are 45 years old or older. Half report that their annual household income is over $100,000 and 75% have a bachelors or higher education degree. Only 18% work in Newtown.

Rating of Services

Question 8 of the survey asked respondents to rate several services as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. Responses weighted using scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being “poor” and 4 being “excellent.” The weighted average results are shown in the following figure.

Public Works services – snow removal, street cleaning, street lighting, and especially street/highway maintenance – are among the lowest rated services provided by the Township, whereas Fire and Police services are top rated.

Residents have often complained about the poorly-maintained 
Stoopville Road islands (see comment below).
What Services Need Improving?

Question 9 of that survey asked: “Rate the top two services the Township should focus on improving.” The following chart shows that overwhelmingly (70%), citizens want improvements to streets and highways. Meanwhile, only 19% chose "Police" and 6% chose "Fire."

Well maintained roads figure very large when considering "quality of life issues" as well as bringing new business to Newtown. Given this and the above survey results, it is a mystery to me why ESI did not recommend that Newtown hire more Public Works department personnel to improve services.

Meanwhile, according to the survey nearly 80% of 553 respondents rated the level of police presence Good (42%) to Excellent (37%). In addition, 75% said that the ability of police to prevent crime was Good (38%) to Excellent (37%). As for Fire Department responsiveness, respondents gave a 72% Good (26%) to Excellent (46%) rating. ESI recommended hiring 5 new firefights are 3 new police officers even though survey respondents seem very satisfied with these services.

Some Comments on Services

The following comments were from residents who rated road maintenance as "Poor."

FOR THE TAXES WE PAY, OUR ROADS SHOULD BE MAINTAINED BETTER [a resident who has lived in Newtown over 10 years].

The weeds growing on the medians are an eyesore every year.. It really makes Newtown look trashy. Would not take much to pull weeds or spray. Snowplowing is the worst. The only time it gets better is when you drive out of Newtown into Northampton. When they ploy my street, they only come down one side. Turning lanes are not done [a resident who has lived in Newtown over 10 years].

The services for filling in potholes are not timely [a resident who has lived in Newtown 4-6 years].

The roads in some of the developments are in terrible condition. After much complaining some work was started on sealing cracks in Rosefield but they never came back to finish the work. It looks awful and is a danger for cars and cyclists [a resident who has lived in Newtown over 10 years].

Road repair is important...have seen the same pot holes forever and on our neighborhood in Newtown grant we called about major issues causing our children injury in our cul-de-sac...we have not ret a response back since Feb. [a resident who has lived in Newtown 4-6 years].

The public works department does not do a good job with being a liason with the state roads. Stoopville Road the medians are horrible never cut weeds all over . We have to complain constantly for the township to maintain them before someone gets hurt because the can not see approaching traffic [a resident who has lived in Newtown over 10 years].

The following comments were from residents who rated street cleaning as "Poor."

If you don’t plan on street sweeping then sell the equipment and use the money on some other service besides cutting grass [a resident who has lived in Newtown over 10 years].

The roads are in terrible shape. I can’t remember the last time the streets were swept [a resident who has lived in Newtown over 10 years].

Posted on 30 Aug 2020, 01:44 - Category: Survey Results

Who Makes the Best Pizza in the Newtown Area?

Like hoagies, pizza is really BIG in Newtown! There are many pizzerias in Newtown and soon to be more (read "MOD Pizza to be Opening In Newtown").

But which one makes the best pizza?

To answer that question, I started a poll on Nextdoor, which included the 10 pizzerias most mentioned by pizza afficionados: 

  • Acqua e Farina
  • Dolce Carini Pizzeria
  • Dominick's Pizzeria
  • Francesco's Pizzeria
  • Jules Thin Crust Pizza
  • Marco's Pizzeria
  • Meglio Pizzeria
  • Newtown Pizza
  • Tre Fratelli
  • Vince's Pizzeria

The chart below shows the results as of the date shown:

Of course, this is NOT a scientific survey and it doesn't get into why people voted for one or the other. Here is one comment I recieved from a respondent on Nextdoor:

The correct answer is none of the above. I’ve lived in Newtown since 2007 and have always had to travel outside of the township for a good pizza. We just really aren’t a pizza town 😂. Original Dominic’s in Trenton is only a short drive from Newtown and has pizza far better than any of the establishments listed here. Non Solo Pasta in Morrisville also has very good pizza.

My reply: There really is no correct answer. It's just a choice of "best" among the available pizzerias. IMHO, you cannot get better pizza anywhere in the U.S. than in NYC where I came from! Forgettaboutit!

What's MY favorite NEWTOWN pizzeria? Sorry, you're not going to get my opinion on that - I'm already in hot water because of my opinion regarding the best (Italian) hoagie in Newtown! [read "The Hoagies of Newtown vs. Wawa"]

The poll is still open should you care to vote (you have to be a member of Nextdoor to vote, sorry). I will update the chart if there are any significant changes.

About Nextdoor

Nextdoor is the world’s largest social network for the neighborhood. Nextdoor enables truly local conversations that empower neighbors to build stronger and safer communities. 

Nextdoor has been very useful to me for keeping in touch with residents, posting information about Newtown Township public meetings, public service announcements and issues of importance to residents.

Recently, for example, I posted information about the Township's Pollution Reduction Plan & its potential impact on our parks. As a result, local residents helped modify the plan and formed "Friends of Roberts Ridge Park", a group whose goal is to plant more trees in the Park. Learn more about that here.

Posted on 09 Aug 2019, 01:17 - Category: Survey Results

Does Newtown Need a Mobile-Enabled Emergency Notification System?

Recently, there have been several emergency or near emergency situations in Newtown Township. On March 7, 2018, during a snow emergency power failure, the Township Building was open as a “warming center,” but before any township residents were made aware of this, power was restored; on October 24, 2018, Swamp Road and Route 413 experienced significant traffic delays due to an accident, but many residents were unaware of the problem.

UPDATE (15 Nov 2018): Obviously today's storm was a challenge for Township residents. According to the Township Manager, Buck and Swamp Roads were closed and caused an overload of traffic on 413, the Bypass, and Eagle Road. The township had difficulty all afternoon even getting trucks out to efficiently address the accumulation of snow/ice. Almost all major roads in the Township were inhibited in one way or another throughout the day by volume and stuck vehicles. Again, residents were not adequately notified until it was too late.

The list goes on. And although the Newtown Police Department and/or the Township Manager were able to post information about some of these events on Twitter and Facebook or via email to homeowner association management companies (with the hope that it would passed along to HOAs and residents), these notices reached a limited number of residents, reached them too late, or never reached them at all.

Not only is there a limited ability for the Newtown Police and Administration Departments to send out emergency and other notices to residents, there is limited ability of residents to easily communicate information to the Township and be assured that a record is kept of each contact.

The Newtown Technology Committee has been investigating services that can solve these problems by sending notices to residents about active shooters, traffic incidents, community events, severe weather alerts, missing persons, etc., via text, mobile apps, email, voice, Twitter, and Facebook. One such system is NIXLE, which is used by over 8,000 communities across the country. For more information download the NIXLE data sheet.

Such a service would cost Newtown Township about $5,500 per year (plus $500 in the first year for implementation and training). The service is FREE to residents who sign up (opt-in) to use it. Is it worth it?

Listen to This Presentation

This is an edited recording of a presentation to the Newtown Technology Committee made by a Nixle sales representative. It covers all the major features of the system.

Recently, I spoke with the Chief of a Regional Police Department that uses NIXLE. According to him, "Nixle has been working very well for us. We purchased this service and permit the three municipalities in the region to also post notices/alerts through our system.  All officers can post an alert. The system is very easy to use, especially the mobile application. I have already used NIXLE's mobile app from my car while traveling to the scene of an event."

Citizens and residents from surrounding municipalities can opt in to receive mobile, email or hard line phone notifications. His department created information cards and officers hand them out at community events to make people aware of the system.

"I would say that Nixle is a benefit and cost appropriate," said the Chief.

UPDATE: Supervisor Mack made a motion at the November 28, 2018, BOS Definition meeting to allocate $6,000 in the 2019 Budget to implement the Nixle system. The motion was tabled due to a lack of sufficient details about the product for the Supervisors to make an informed decision. The matter is likely to be brought up again in 2019 for consideration to implement the system in 2020. At that time there will be a new Chief of Police and there will be an opportunity for the Technology Committee to present its case before the Board.
Another Option: Savvy Citizen
View this post on Instagram

Jeralyn Brown explained the benefits of the Savvy Citizen alert system to me at the Bucks County Association of Township Officials annual meeting at the Northampton Country Club. One benefit is the price: $299 per month!

A post shared by John Mack Newtown Supervisor (@johnmacknewtown) on

Your Input Is Still Important

Should Newtown purchase such a system to instantly send out Emergency Alerts, Advisories (less urgent need-to-know information), Community Information (day-to-day neighborhood to community-level information), Traffic (very localized traffic information), etc? 

please take a short survey to let me know if you would opt-in to such a service if it were available to Newtown Township and Wrightstown residents (both communities are serviced by the Newtown Township Police Department) as well as Newtown Borough residents.

No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up by subscribing to John Mack's email newsletter.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township approved survey. Its purpose is solely to inform John Mack – a Newtown Supervisor – of the public’s opinion regarding this issue.

Posted on 13 Nov 2018, 10:40 - Category: Survey Results

The Hoagies of Newtown vs. Wawa

At a May 14, 2018, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting, a resident claimed that "There is no place [in Newtown] to get a normal sandwich for less than $15". The comment was made in support of a plan for a Wawa superstore on Newtown Bypass (see here). 

Actually, there are many places in Newtown where you can get a sandwich/hoagie for under $15.

To prove it, I bought hoagies/sandwiches from six Newtown Township businesses. All were priced under $15. But how did they compare with a Wawa hoagie?

To answer that question, I drove 6.0 miles to the Wawa located on 2nd Street Pike in Richboro, PA and purchased a chicken with spinach classic hoagie for $5.79.

Just for fun, I decided to create an online quiz that challenged people to identify the Wawa hoagie among the six Newtown hoagies that I purchased (see image above). Of course, it was only possible to judge based on photographs I took of each sandwich. It was not a popularity contest and unfortunately, not a taste test. 

I also asked respondents to identify the highest priced hoagie among the group of seven. 

Results

Over 215 people participated in the quiz. Only 22% of them were able to correctly identify the Wawa hoagie (#6).

The majority (55%) of respondents thought #3 was the Wawa hoagie, but it is an Italian hoagie from Shady Brook Farm. It cost about $8.

About 13% of respondents thought it was #4, which is an Italian hoagie from Acme and cost $5.

Here's the identity of all the hoagies:

  1. Slack’s Hoagie Shack half Italian hoagie. About $8.50.
  2. La Stalla “Frank Sinatra” sandwich. $ 11.95.
  3. 12” Italian hoagie from Shady Brook Farm costs about $8.
  4. 12” Italian hoagie from Acme. About $5.
  5. Primo mild sharp Italian hoagie. About $10 for 9” size.
  6. Chicken with spinach classic Wawa hoagie. About $5 for 10” size.
  7. Joey G’s grilled chicken with asparagus sandwich. $7.95.

NOTE: 36% of respondents identified #2 as the "priciest" hoagie among the seven (it also had the most meat!) whereas 23% guessed it was #7 and 22% said #5 (close, but no cigar!).

One person complained about the lack of fairness: “I don't know why the same sandwich wasn't ordered, and that the sandwiches were positioned differently. Not really a fair visual comparison.”

In my defense - if any is needed - I got the idea for the survey AFTER first buying the Wawa hoagie from the Richboro, PA store and noticing how it seemed to be thrown together without much care. Afterward, I started buying other hoagies to compare - my preference was for Italian hoagies but I did not think it mattered that all of them should be the same type of sandwich.

Show Me a Wawa Italian Hoagie

To be a fair visual comparison, I agree that I should have a photo of an Italian hoagie from Wawa. So, while attending an EPA meeting in Horsham on 25 July 2018, I purchased a classic Italian hoagie from a local Wawa (see my Instagram post below).

 

During the lunch break today at the EPA PFAS Community Stakeholder meeting in Horsham, I was able to drive about 1 mile down Horsham Road to a Wawa and get this Classic Italian hoagie for $5 and change. It looks OK compared to the chicken hoagie I purchased at the Richboro Wawa. It also tasted OK, but not great. The amount of meat was pretty meager compared to other Italian hoagies I have purchased in Newtown.

A post shared by John Mack Newtown Supervisor (@johnmacknewtown) on

Posted on 24 Jul 2018, 11:47 - Category: Survey Results

Survey of Winning Candidates - Top Level Results

In November-December 2017, after Democrat candidates swept many local municipality elections, the Bucks County Democratic Committee (BCDC) fielded a survey of winning supervisors and council members asking them about factors that lead to their win, what approaches were used in the campaign, how much money was spent, etc. The survey collected 29 responses, all from winning Democrats, of course.

Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign was Critical

  • Top factors contributing to wins are GOTV (Get Out The Vote), especially canvassing & strong local municipal organization (see chart below)
  • Most prevalent approaches were canvassing, signs, in-person fundraising, snail mail, social media and meet & greets

The GOTV effort – mostly through canvassing – was very important, especially for someone like me who never ran for office before. Not only was that critical for getting people to know me and to vote for me, it also gave me an opportunity to speak to residents about issues that were important to them. I surveyed and polled residents on the issues as well (for more on that, read “Newtown Speaks Out on the Issues”).

Under “Other,” I included my blog and email newsletter, which continue to to be important ways for me to inform residents about important issues.

Follow the Money

  • Campaigns spent anywhere from $0 (unopposed) to $50,000; average was about $9000; on average, candidate self-funding was $626 (see table below)

After the primary and before the election, I spent $651.12 out of my own pocket, mostly for my website (www.johnmacknewtown.info), which I will continue to maintain, pamphlet printing fees, postage and envelopes for mailings sent to a couple of hundred people I met while canvassing, and Facebook ads.

Of course, my team (Newtown’s Voice) spent much more than that to fund the campaign of three Supervisor candidates; i.e., Phil Calabro, Linda Bobrin, and myself. For the period from June 6, 2017 through October 23, 2017, Newtown’s Voice Spent $31,559 according to Campaign Finance Reports filed with the Bucks County Board of Elections. The Republican team (Newtown First) spent $46,363 during the same period.

Posted on 04 Jan 2018, 13:12 - Category: Survey Results

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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